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Here Come the Apples

June 3rd, 2019

This past week the apple trees started blooming. Our long……wet……spring seems to have been just what the flowering trees needed, especially the apples. Last year there were no apples, none, not a one. That’s not uncomming for apple trees, many produce every other year. These trees will produce each year if the conditions are good, usually one year is a great harvest the second slightly smaller. It’s hard to say what made them not produce last year, most likely three years of drought and windy days during bloom window.


The good thing is that we made lots of cider the year before, so we still had some in the freezer. For the most part, these old (over 100 years old) trees produce cider apples. There are a few varieties that are good for making sauce, drying, and eating, but we typically make lots of cider and freeze it in gallong jugs to enjoy all winter long.

Do you grow fruit? How are the trees doing this year?

Fresh Raspberries in October

October 10th, 2018

This past weekend I harvested my first berries from the ‘Caroline’ canes I got from Nourse Farms last year. Caroline is described by Nourse as “this raspberry has a larger berry than Heritage and is more productive, with a rich, full, and intense raspberry flavor. It is a very vigorous variety, with more tolerance for root rot than Heritage. The farther south you grow it, the earlier it will ripen. Caroline is widely adapted, growing everywhere from the East Coast to the West Coast. This variety does not tolerate high heat and drought.”

The deer browsed them heavily this past winter and we had a hot, dry summer, so I was worried I wouldn’t get any berries at all. It looks as if we will get a decent little harvest this fall. I really wanted a raspberry that produced in the fall so it was ripe when the rest of the garden was waning. These are perfect and are coming on just as the summer garden bounty is drawing to a close. We’ve enjoyed every single berry and look forward to harvests for years to come.

Do you grow raspberries in your garden? Any favorite varieties to recommend?

Strawberry Bed Refresh

June 7th, 2018

Our strawberry patch is 6 years old now and in need of a refresh. With the redesign of the main garden, they need to be moved to make way for a walkway. Instead of digging up the plants we have to transplant, I decided to purchase new plants.

Since ‘Sparkle’ are our favorite berries, I ordered 50 crowns from Nourse Farms. They are my go-to source for asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, and other soft fruits.

Since the area of the garden where I want to put all the soft fruit is new and the soil hasn’t been amended, we decided to try some of the strawberries in raised beds. I got this cedar from the local mill, I was able to trade eggs for it. These new plants won’t produce berries this year, but we still have the old patch for that. We’re looking forward to lots of berries in years to come.

What’s your favorite soft fruit?

Forcing Rhubarb

April 24th, 2018

If you remember, I mentioned last week that I put a big black pot over my rhubarb to try to force it. I’ve never done this before, but have heard about it and read about it a few times. Yesterday evening, I lifted the pot and was amazed by what was beneath it.

This is the rhubarb that hasn’t been covered, it’s barely popping up out of the ground. In the next photo, you can see the forced rhubarb on the left and the unforced rhubarb on the right, or maybe you can’t see that rhubarb. This variety is ‘Glaskins Perpetual’ rhubarb, it can be harvested all summer long.


I’m quite amazed by the process and will definitely add it to my list of spring garden chores. Next spring, I may try covering the rhubarb in mid March. I’m really looking forward to early rhubarb this year, now I just have to look through my cookbooks and decide what to make with it.

What fun garden experiments are you doing this spring?

Making Cidah

October 13th, 2015

Cider (or cidah here in Maine) is one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fall treats. In Ohio, we had a local press we purchased gallons and gallons of cider from each year. We have yet to find cider as good as there’s here in Maine, so we usually get 8-10 gallons for our freezer when we’re back in Ohio for Thanksgiving. Lucky for our, our neighbor was given a cider press and we had an abundance of apples.
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We have lots of different varieties of apples here, probably around 15, of which 8 are ready to be used right now. We have no idea what varieties they are, some over 120 years old. We’re hoping to figure out what they are here one of these days. We picked two of each variety and I made juice, which we tasted to see what flavor profiles they each had. It was amazing to taste the difference between them all, some where sweet, some were intense, others were watery, and still other were astringent.
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After tasting the various juices, we started picking apples into big totes. Each tote holds around 2 bushels of apples, we picked three totes and a bushel. We picked for an hour or two and then loaded them up in the car to head down to our neighbor’s.
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He was ready to roll, the cider press was fixed up nicely and on the front porch. After a little tweaking we were in business putting the apples through the crusher and making our first batch.
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After a few hours we had all of our containers filled and tons of apple mash. Some went to his chickens, some went to our chickens, some went to a local farmer for their pigs.
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Overall it was a really fun day, ending up with a lot of cider wasn’t so bad. The cider ended up being delicious, next year we might tweak our recipe a bit, but it’s still better than any of the cidah I’ve purchased from any of the local orchards. We were pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy the process was.

Have you ever been a part of a cider pressing day? Do you like apple cider?

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Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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